Posted by LBG1 on July 30th, 2009
The LA Times is reporting that there’s a “battle brewing” between Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine and the temporary administrators of Jackson’s estate. The Times also mentioned concert promoter AEG. While the press is focusing on the temporary administrators of the trust named in Jackson’s will and Katherine, we see a different slant to this story, of AEG seeking to keep the details of its involvement in Michael Jackson’s final months as well as his death, under wraps. Details which, we believe, if revealed, will result in a massive wrongful death lawsuit against AEG Live and Colony Capital, co-promoter of the 50 concerts slated in London. We also believe that yet another person will be involved, the “mysterious” Dr. Tohme Tohme, who recently “returned” $5.5 million in “secret cash” and items from Neverland which belonged to Jackson and which were originally slated to be auctioned off prior to Jackson’s death to the Jackson estate.
According to ABC, Dr. Tohme, Jackson’s “unpaid adviser”, recently turned over to the Jackson estate $5.5 million in ” secret cash” and a “substantial amount of tangible personal property”. Property which were Jackson’s personal Neverland items that were once slated to be auctioned.
On July 5th, we wrote about Dr. Tohme in Michael Jackson’s Death: Neverland, The Mysterious Dr. Tohme, President of Michael Jackson Productions?
Before returning the “secret cash” Tohme had billed himself as Jackson’s “unpaid adviser” and “spokesperson”. It was Tohme who claimed he had “set up” a meeting between Tom Barrack, Chairman of Colony Capital, and Jackson. It was purportedly this meeting that led to Barrack buying the note on Neverland which was close to being auctioned off. The meeting also led to Barrack contacting Philip Anschutz, a “reclusive” Kansan billionaire who owned AEG. It was AEG who lined up and promoted Jackson’s upcoming concert series in London at AEG’s O2 Arena with Colony Capital as co-promoter.
Tohme claims the $5.5 million in cash was a “secret” he kept with Michael. Tohme claimed he “handed” the money over to the Jackson estate. Tohme claimed the money came from Jackson’s residuals and was going to be used to purchase an estate that Jackson coveted in Las Vegas which Tohme claimed he was already in the process of negotiating a deal.
As for Tohme turning over Jackson’s personal items from Neverland, we found a court document from a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 23, 2009, involving Tohme and the auctioning off of those items and where Tohme listed himself as “President of MJJ Productions”.
MJJ Productions Inc. is Jackson’s bonafide company founded in 2000 whose offices are listed as located at 9255 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.
On July 4, during an AP interview, Tohme never mentioned his role as president of MJJ Productions. Instead, Tohme was referred as Jackson’s “last business manager and spokesperson”. He referred to himself as Jackson’s “closest friend” for the “last year and half”.
In court documents, Tohme listed himself as “President of MJJ (Michael Jackson) Productions. Tohme claimed in the document that “in the middle of 2008 a deal had been made with Colony Capital LLC to refinance some of the existing debt obligations on the Neverland Valley Ranch” and that “as part of the deal with Colony, MJJ had to remove all of Michael Jackson’s personal property out of Neverland” in “90 days”.
Tohme stated that it was he who contacted Julien’s Auction, LLC.. Tohme specified that Julien’s could not sell any of Jackson’s items unless they were pre-approved by Tohme and Jackson.
Tohme stated that he signed the agreement with the auction house “sometime, on or about August 8, 2008″. Even though Tohme stated that he had “read” the agreement, he claimed that he “relied” on “Mr. Julien’s representations” that Julien would remove from Neverland “all” of Jackson’s property before any “determination” would be made of which items would be sold at auction. In short, according to Tohme, Julien’s was responsible for the cost of packing up Jackson’s entire property, putting it into storage, then allowing Jackson and Tohme to decide “which” of the items would be sold for auction.
Tohme goes on to state that “he wouldn’t have allowed” Julien’s to remove “any of the property that he (Julien) intended to sell ‘everything’ without first allowing Michael Jackson and I to consent to the sale of each item”.
Tohme stated that he “wasn’t authorized by Michael Jackson to give Julien’s Auction House, LLC or any other company or person the right to sell any of Michael Jackson’s personal property“.
On April 13, 2009, the New York Times wrote about the upcoming auction as well as stating “Tohme R. Tohme, the president of MJJ Productions, Mr. Jackson’s company, and a spokesman for the singer, signed a contract consigning to Julien’s “all movable and removable personal property located at Neverland Ranch.”
On April 14, the Los Angeles Times reported that during a suit filed “last month” in Los Angeles Superior Court-the suit claimed certain items “irreplaceable” and that Jackson “hadn’t signed the contract”-the judge had dismissed “the attempt to have the contract ruled invalid” and that Jackson’s company now sought a temporary injunction. The Times also reported to what extent Julien’s was instructed to remove Jackson’s “property”, such as “the hoods over the stoves” and the “light fixtures” and that Julien’s spent over three months removing Jackson’s “property”.
April 15, 2009
“Jackson’s spokesman Dr. Tohme R. Tohme and auction organizer Darren Julien issued the following joint statement: “There was so much interest from so many of Jackson’s fans that instead of putting the items in the hands of private collectors, Dr. Tohme and Julien’s Auction House have made arrangements that will allow the collection to be shared with and enjoyed by Jackson’s fans for many years to come.””
The auction was “called off” with Jackson’s personal items being returned to Jackson. We found this quote from Julien dated June 26, the about the fate of Jackson’s personal items and whether the items would be auctioned off now that Jackson was dead:
“We returned everything to Michael immediately after the exhibit in April. It is still in storage. Under the right circumstances, I would agree to undertake the auction again.”
Last week the Jackson estate reported that it had received from Tohme $5 million in “secret cash” and that Tohme had “turned over items from the pop star’s Neverland estate that were once scheduled to be auctioned”.
Neverland, AEG, and Dr. Tohme
In our previous story we reported that Dr. Tohme stated that he had “previously worked” for Colony Capital. Tohme, as an “unpaid” adviser, had “escorted” Jackson to the meeting where Jackson agreed to 10 concerts promoted by both AEG and Colony Capital. Tohme also stated that he was “working with” AEG and Colony Capital.
Tohme, Colony Capital’s Tom Barrack, and AEG’s Philip Anschutz
Tohme claimed he set up the original meeting between Barrack, Tohme, and Jackson. One result of the meeting: Barrack wound up saving Neverland from the auction but also gained ownership, with Jackson given some sort of profit sharing agreement. It was Barrack who contacted the owner of AEG, Phillips Anschutz.
On June 2, Business Mirror.com reported that Barrack’s own fortune, which Forbes estimated in 2008 at 2.3 billion when Barrack met Jackson, had dwindled to the “multi-millions”. Barrack and Anschutz believed worldwide ticket sales to Jackson’s “greatest” comeback tour could exceed $450 million. The money that Barrack invested in Jackson was backed by his investment in Neverland. Phillips Anschutz’s AEG’s investment in Jackson: $20 million.
More from the Business Mirror and Dr. Tohme:
“In an interview last week Dr. Tohme Tohme, an orthopedic surgeon-turned-businessman who had previously worked with Colony Capital, identified himself as the singer’s “manager, spokesman, everything” and spoke about the benefits of dealing with business titans Barrack and Anschutz rather than their “sleazy” predecessors. “Michael Jackson is an institution. He needs to be run like an institution,” Tohme said.
The next day, however, Frank DiLeo, Jackson’s current manager and a friend of three decades, claimed he was Jackson’s manager and said Tohme had been fired a month and a half earlier. Tohme denied being fired but declined further comment.”
It’s been reported that there’s a “fortune at stake” for concert promoters AEG and the ill-fated fifty Michael Jackson concerts slated in London at AEG’s 02 Arena. According to Billboard, “more than 85 million tickets had already been sold” with AEG shelling out more than “$30 million” for pre-production and promotion costs and an estimated $10 million paid in advance to Jackson. AEG would also be responsible for the cost of refunding ticket holders to Jackson’s concerts.
Billboard reported that on May 12, AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips claimed his company was “well-insured” in case Jackson were unable to perform:
“AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips told Billboard.biz May 12 that his company was well-insured. “We have one policy in place and we’re negotiating for an even larger binder,” said Phillips, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment regarding Jackson’s death. “We have insured the production costs. In order to get the first part of the insurance in place, [Jackson] had to have a physical, and he passed it with flying colors.” AEG CEO Tim Leiweke made similar comments in March at the Billboard Music & Money Symposium.”
Billboard reported that a “source” claimed there wasn’t an insurance policy in place and that even if Jackson had passed a physical, any “pre-existing condition or drug or alcohol related, a normal cancellation policy” wouldn’t have covered AEG’s losses.
On July 23, Insider.com reported that AEG Live had filed papers in order to petition the probate court handling Michael Jackson’s estate. According to the AEG spokesperson, AEG filed a request for “special notice, meaning we can receive copies of papers filed as part of the proceedings”. AEG went on to state that they were an “interested party” and that they have a right to be aware of the information”.
On July 29, the Chicago Tribune reported Sony Pictures had paid $60 million to concert promoter AEG Live for the “rights to 80 hours of Michael Jackson rehearsal footage recorded in preparation for his ill-fated “This Is It” tour”. Even so, purportedly 90% of the $60 million will go to the Jackson estate.
On June 26, the LA Times reported that a Jackson “adviser”, Tohme, had stated that while Jackson had picked Dr. Conrad Murray as his physician, AEG “paid the doctor’s bills”.
On July 22, according to Insider.com, AEG Live stated that “Michael Jackson insisted” AEG hire Dr. Murray and that Murray was “Jackson’s personal physician”. According to BittenandBound.com, Murry had been Jackson’s physician for three years and that Murray had been hired by AEG to be with Jackson “full-time”.
During his AP interview, Tohme stated that he had “built a fence to keep people out” in regards to Jackson’s privacy. Tohme also stated that he had “fired” some of Jackson’s security guards. Tohme stated that he had seen Jackson “two days” prior to Jackson’s death and that Jackson was in “good health” and that, “as far as” Tohme knew, Jackson “never took drugs”. There’s been unsubstantiated rumors that, immediately after Jackson was pronounced dead at the hospital, Tohme allegedly “fired” the security guards at Jackson’s home.
During an interview Jackson’s personal chef, Kai Chase, claimed that on the day Jackson died, she was informed by Jackson’s security guards at 1:30 pm that she would have to leave the house because Jackson was being taken to the hospital. She also stated that it was “about 12:05 or 12:10 pm” when Murray ran down the stairs and “screamed” for Jackson’s oldest son Prince. She also stated that she later saw paramedics “run up the stairs”.
According to the Daily Mail, Prince was taken by Murray to Jackson’s room where the boy watched Murray apply CPR to Jackson for “over 50 minutes” until a security guard called 911. Murray’s alleged behavior involving Jackson’s son could mean a separate potential lawsuit against Murray and his employer, AEG, of Prince being unwittingly exposed to undo trauma, pain, and suffering. It also calls into question Murray’s motive in retrieving a young child from downstairs to where Murray allegedly tried to resuscitate Jackson for “over 50 minutes”.
According to Hollywood Grind, Murray’s attorney Edward Chernoff, AEG Live owes Murray $300,000, two months pay. AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips responded by trying to distance his company from Murray. While Phillips acknowledged that the company had a contract with Murray, Phillips claimed that Jackson “had failed to sign it” and that Murray would have to sue the Jackson estate.
In his will Michael Jackson turned everything over to the administrators of his trust, The Michael Jackson Family Trust. By law, the details of the trust can be kept a secret.
On July 22, People magazine had this tidbit about Jackson’s estate and his mother Katherine. According to People, Katherine filed a request to Jackson’s the attorneys handling Jackson’s estate to “speed up” their efforts. Katherine alleged that, so far, the attorneys “apparently intent on keeping her in the dark as much and for as long as possible.”
What’s interesting to note is just who responded to Katherine’s request: the attorneys handling the Jackson estate, John Branca and John McClain, and AEG:
“Attorneys for Jackson’s estate and AEG, which was to promote Jackson’s big comeback concert this summer in London, countered that her request is “voluminous, burdensome and invasive.” They also expressed concern that Katherine would not uphold a confidentiality agreement for Jackson’s concert deal.”
More details have emerged regarding AEG’s attempts to muzzle Katherine:
From the LA Times:
“In their filing, Katherine Jackson’s attorneys said McClain and Branca refused to provide documents they had requested or placed “cumbersome and unreasonable restrictions” on access to them.
A lawyer for McClain and Branca denied those allegations.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” wrote lawyer Jeryll S. Cohen. She said the “cornerstone” of Katherine Jackson’s complaint was her inability to view a contract between the concert promoter AEG Live and her son. The contract covered a series of 50 concerts in London as well as unspecified film projects between the L.A.-based promoter and Jackson.
In a separate filing, a lawyer for AEG said Katherine Jackson’s legal team had refused to sign a confidentiality agreement that, among other things, barred them from using the information contained in the contract in any legal process other than the probate court proceedings.”
The Jackson estate administrators admitted that Katherine sought the details of the contract between her son and AEG. A contract which would include the details of whether the company had insured Jackson as well the amount paid to AEG if Jackson had failed to perform. The contract would also provide details about the personal physician hired by AEG. In this case, AEG has admitted it was Dr. Murray.
AEG stands to lose a considerable sum over the series of concerts Jackson failed to perform. There’s been no news that AEG has sought to recoup its losses by way of filing an insurance claim, a claim, that if AEG was telling the truth, that Jackson had passed a medical exam with “flying colors”, should be legit.
If it’s ascertained that Jackson’s death was caused by Dr. Murray’s actions, AEG, as Murray’s employer, could face a potentially massive wrongful death lawsuit from Katherine Jackson. AEG attempted to get Katherine Jackson’s attorneys to sign a confidentiality clause that would bar them using the information contained in the contract in “any legal process” other than probate court. Any “other” legal process could include a wrongful death suit filed by Katherine’s attorneys. If successful, AEG would muzzle Katherine Jackson’s attorneys as well as Katherine Jackson from revealing AEG’s role in Michael Jackson’s death.